HTC has finally announced that its “Powered by HTC” research and development division will be bought out by Google for $1.1 billion. Powered by HTC is the team behind Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones. According to HTC’s CO, Peter Shen, this will mean about half of their team will be joining Google. But they also emphasized that HTC will continue to develop its own range of smartphone, including its next flagship product. The agreement also grants Google a non-exclusive license for a large part of HTC’s intellectual property. The deal isn’t quite finalized, it is expected to be approved and closed by early 2018.
What exactly does this all mean? HTC co-founder and CEO Cher Wang made the following statement:
“This agreement is a brilliant next step in our longstanding partnership, enabling Google to supercharge their hardware business while ensuring continued innovation within our HTC smartphone and Vive virtual reality businesses,”
But the rumor mill suggests that there is something more to this. Perhaps the fact that HTC has been in trouble. The company hasn’t been performing well since 2015. They have been weak on several fronts and have been undercut on the lower end by low-margin Chinese business that can compete on quality. At the higher end, HTC doesn’t have the advertising ability to go up against Samsung or LG. HTC’s business have also been at risk of not being able to cover its own losses. If a company like Sony or LG lose millions on phones, they simply shift cash from profitable divisions, like Playstation or TVs to cover the loss. … Read the rest
Yesterday, Google made an extremely confusing announcement that could easily scare approximately 800 million people. Essentially they said that Google Drive was going way, but that’s not actually the case. However, there are some things that you should know about the changes that are coming. To start, the Google cloud service known as Drive is going to be just fine, for now. If you log in to your Google account using your web browser, you probably won’t notice any changes. But if you use the app – either on your Mac or PC – well, you won’t be able to for much longer. The app is officially being deprecated and it will no longer be supported after December 11.
Instead, you will need to choose from one of two new apps. You are going to want to download Backup and Sync. Which, are confusingly offered at the same URL that Google Drive has long used as a hub. That’s because Backup and Sync basically are Google Drive. But Google is also rolling it’s Photo Uploader’s features into that package. You will get unlimited storage on photos that you upload if you select the option that slightly compresses them. To upload your photos with their original quality intact, you’ll need to pay for extra storage. Offline use of files and device syncing will still be available.
Backup and Sync have been around for a couple of months now. But the real motivator behind the depreciation is a push to move enterprise users over to the new Drive File Stream app. … Read the rest
Samsung-owned Harman International has just announced three new JBL Link Speakers, each with a voice activated speaker with Google Assistant built in. The company also revealed the Harmon Kardon Allure, which is an Alexa-enabled smart speaker with 360 degree sound. Which sounds a lot like what Sony announced just the other day. The Link speakers come in two portable sizes as well as a larger design. These can all be linked together for multi-room listening and also have Chromecast built in. The Allure will retail for $250, starting this winter. While the Link speakers will debut in the UK this fall.
Both Google and Amazon have been putting their respective assistants on more devices, lately. Google has plans to bring Assistant to upcoming Anker and Panasonic speakers and LG washing machines (umm… yes!) while Amazon has already linked up with Ulimate Ears’ line of Bluetooth speakers as well.
According to Harman:
“We’re excited, to integrate with Amazon Alexa to deliver a beautiful speaker with astounding audio coupled with all the intelligent features of Alexa,” said Michael Mauser, President, Lifestyle Audio Division at HARMAN. “Research shows the number one use of digital voice services is music streaming and Allure with its premium sound quality, iconic design, and exceptional voice-enabled technology, will produce a spectacular sound experience while delivering on our promise of elevating a connected life through smart technology.”
I wonder if there are too many smart speakers on the market right now. … Read the rest